I want to tell you a story about someone who lost 80+ pounds
This could easily be a story about a person who gave up, and threw in the towel. But this will not be that story,
Have you ever stepped on the scale and said to yourself ‘I’m just going to be fat forever. Whatever.’ Or after years of struggle, ups and downs and plateaus, have you ever thought - ‘Is anything ever going to work?’
If you’re reading this, it’s likely.
Remember though, this isn’t a story about someone who gave up.
Rather, it’s about someone who kept going—overcoming the nearly universal setbacks and challenges during major body transformations.
In this story, I want to share with you the top mindset strategies for persevering when fat loss feels impossible (or at least just very frustrating).
Caveat: Not every strategy will feel right for you.
Here’s my suggestion…
Read this story through the lens of your personal experience. Try what feels like a good fit and set aside anything that doesn’t.
1. Get to know the future you. Aka. Future journaling!
We talk about this a lot in our coaching program.
Before changing what you eat or how you move, consider this question:
What do you ACTUALLY want?
That thing you’re really after probably isn’t just a goal (for example, a smaller body).
Likely, your goal just represents what you’re really after.
For example, you might associate being in a smaller body with more confidence, and being the type of person who takes on challenges and welcomes new experiences. Maybe someone who spends more time with her kids doing activities.
Spend time envisioning that whole person. (Not just the body.)
I personally remember when I started my weight loss journey. Yes, I wanted to lean out, but more than anything, I really wanted that sense of pride and accomplishment in setting out to achieve something.
For some, you may want to envision who you don’t want to be.
I talk to women a lot about how they want to make sure they’re not uninvolved in their children's lives because of their lack of energy. Maybe the thought of losing strength and not being able to do chores around the house scares you. Or maybe having a hard time maintaining the lawn and gardening is something you want to prevent.
Fear can be a very powerful thing.
“I never wanted my son to see me in an unhealthy state,” one woman said to me on a Zoom consultation the other day.
When you have thoughts or questions like, “Should I skip my workout?” and “Should I supersize this?”, instead ask yourself, “What would the future me decide?”
Here’s a quote that may help you move forward…
“Having what you want is a side effect of being the person it takes to get it.”
How to envision the Future You
Imagine yourself a year or two into the future. You’re in the body you want.
- What’s different about your life?
- What are you doing that you can’t do now?
- How do you feel?
- What are you wearing?
- Where are you working?
- Who are your friends?
- How do you spend your time?
- What are other people saying about you?
Imagine every detail.
Capture that vision in words, pictures or in a video or audio message.
As your fat loss journey unfolds, periodically ask yourself:
▶ What can I do today in order to become the person I want to be tomorrow?
Maybe it’s eating breakfast instead of skipping it, drinking an extra glass of water, or taking two slow breaths before your first bite of dinner.
Pick one thing that’ll make you feel like a success, everyday. Once you’ve done that thing, you’re good.
▶ Has my vision shifted?
You may find that your vision becomes your reality sooner than expected.
Long before you shed 50+ pounds, for example, you’ll likely experience more energy—and you’ll be able to do a lot of things that once seemed impossible.
When this happens, you have a couple options.
Some clients choose to re-envision their future selves. For example, if someone’s initial vision involved playing ball with their kids, their expanded vision might involve becoming an avid runner, hiker, or CrossFitter.
Others, however, realize that they’re already the person they want to be. They’re happy with that, even though they haven’t lost as much weight as they thought they would. That’s okay, too.
2. Focus more on actions—and less on outcomes.
It can take a year or two to lose 50+ pounds.
When your journey lasts that long, it can be difficult to keep your sights on the finish line.
By emphasizing your daily actions more than the final destination, however, you can break that months-long odyssey into several shorter, more attainable day trips like…
- Going from zero to one veggie serving a day
- Switching from large fries to medium
- Walking 10 more minutes than last week
Another benefit: Your behaviour is more within your control than your body size.
By continually trying to take the best action possible, you increase the likelihood of the outcome you desire.
To highlight your behaviour successes, try the following.
Notice what small things you’re doing right.
It’s so easy to focus on the negative.
To stay confident and motivated, however, you want to shine a spotlight on what you’re doing well, she says. Chances are, you are changing more than you realize.
Downshift as needed.
Sometimes, you’ll feel as if you’re cruising on autopilot.
Other times, it might seem as if the entire world is here to sabotage your efforts to eat minimally-processed foods or hit the gym.
On top of that, some days you’ll feel super motivated. Other days you’ll crave ice cream for dinner and hours of quality time in your favourite recliner.
During more challenging times, think about turning the dial down to something that feels more manageable.
In a previous article, we talk about how you might dial physical activity up and down, based on life circumstances. You can customize each notch on the dial, based on your abilities and preferences. You can also create similar dials for nutrition, sleep, stress management, and any other behaviour you’re trying to change.
3. Know what you’re not willing to live without.
There are going to be some foods and experiences that you don’t want to give up—as well as others that you’re just not willing to try.
The good news:
YOU get to decide what changes you’re willing to make and maintain.
Let’s get back to that person who wanted to lose 80+ and did it. At first, she wasn’t willing to give up fast food.
She ate it every day, a couple times a day.
Because she loved it.
And it was convenient.
Rather than give it up, she set a very different challenge for herself:
Find a way to lose fat while still eating pizza, tacos, and burgers.
First, she downsized her meals—ordering fewer slices of pizza, fewer tacos, and smaller burgers and fries.
Eventually she made different choices altogether, such as getting baked potatoes instead of fries and grilled chicken sandwiches instead of burgers.
She lost her first 40 pounds that way.
Over time, she was willing to make bigger changes, like cooking some of her meals at home.
her fast food burger turned into one made from lower fat beef. The refined bun became a whole grain one.
And she stacked it with lots of veggies.
Rather than aiming for the best choices, all you really need to do is continually make slightly better choices.
To do that, consider these questions:
- What tiny changes are you okay trying?
- What somewhat healthier foods are you willing to eat?
- What portions are you willing to shrink, just a tad?
4. Expect to plateau.
When you eat less and lose weight, you burn fewer calories, thanks to an annoying phenomenon called “metabolic adaptation.”
That means it can become increasingly difficult to lose each subsequent pound.
For some people, that means weight loss might slow—maybe even stall.
If you started your weight loss journey with a specific scale weight in mind, plateaus can feel like getting stuck in standstill traffic.
That frustration, however, generally comes from putting too much emphasis on the outcome.
Rather than hit a specific weight, try to show up and do your best each day for a year. By shifting your goal to something you could totally control, you can negated the feelings that will come when your body doesn’t behave as expected.
Do some accounting.
Remember the Future Journalling exercise we told you about above? A plateau is a great time to revisit it.
Are you still making choices that align with what the Future You needs?
How consistently are you eating slowly until satisfied, exercising, and including whole foods? Has emotional or stress eating crept back into your life like an ex-lover? How about mindless calories?
Double down on skill building.
You’re going to hit several plateaus if you’re looking to lose 30, 40, 60, or 100 lbs.
Each time, shift your focus away from what is outside of your control (the scale) to what is within your control: your behaviour.
Consider: What additional skills might you add or expand?
For example, if you’re walking consistently, maybe you add strength training to your exercise routine. Or perhaps you lean into eating slowly and mindfully, seeing if you can stop eating when you feel just satisfied, even if there’s food left on your plate.
Question the scale.
At some point, you may find you’ve embraced all of the skills you’re willing to embrace. Maybe you’re living your vision, too.
At the same time, maybe you haven’t reached the weight you initially thought you wanted.
Is that scale weight really the right weight—for YOU?
After all, many people’s “goal weights” are, well, a little arbitrary. Perhaps the number just sounded good to you. Or it’s what you weighed during a time in your life when you felt good (but not necessarily because of your weight). Maybe it’s a doctor's recommendation.
A scale number is just that—a number.
It’s not a measure of your worth as a person.
Rather than judging yourself by a number, focus on your daily actions. Are you still doing your best to make healthier choices, most of the time? If so, that’s something to feel GREAT about.
Take a moment to celebrate your leaner, stronger, healthier body—and how it’s changed your life.
What can you accomplish with this body that you couldn’t before?
Chances are, it’s a lot—and that just might be enough.
If you’re ready to work on these top mindset exercises and get on your way to losing what you don’t want, and gain everything you’ve always dreamed about…